10 February 2010

Message in a Bottle: Social Networking and the prophetic voice of the Police

As a responsible father, I have been introducing my kids to the Police (the band, not the law enforcement - I'll do that later). At this point the family favorite is "Message in a Bottle." I have always loved the guitar riff but, until now, I have never noticed the lyrics.

Now, every time I hear the song, the lonely cry of the human heart and the advent of social networking have been on my mind. Examine the lyrics for yourself and consider if, like me, some of your attraction to social networking is fundamentally a loneliness that cannot be addressed by a bottle on steroids.

Message in a Bottle
written by Sting, 1979

Just a castaway

An island lost at sea

Another lonely day

With no one here but me

More loneliness

Than any man could bear

Rescue me before I fall into despair

I'll send an SOS to the world
I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

A year has passed since I wrote my note
But I should have known this right from the start

Only hope can keep me together

Love can mend your life

But love can break your heart

I'll send an SOS to the world

I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

Walked out this morning

Don't believe what I saw

A hundred billion bottles

Washed up on the shore

Seems I'm not alone at being alone

A hundred billion castaways

Looking for a home

I'll send an SOS to the world

I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my

Message in a bottle

Sending out an SOS
In the words of Jeremiah, "How lonely sits the city that was full of people!" (Lamentations 1.1). We are not alone in being alone and, yet, a hundred billion bottles (or followers) sent by other castaways will not resolve that loneliness. We need more. We crave something that ones and zeros are limited in providing, namely, Trinitarian intimacy.
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. (Psalms 25.14–18)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8.38–39)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3.1 ESV)

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3.16–18)
Additional Resources
Is the local church my only place to develop relationships?


  1. Have you introduced them to "Roxanne" yet? ;-)

  2. Ha! I have a selective, "introductory" song list - but that one fits God's Old Testament plea for Israel's faithfulness pretty darn well. (Ezekiel 16, Isaiah 42:22 and Jer. 3:1)